Jesse Ryder has been offered his first New Zealand Cricket contract and joins Aaron Redmond, Daniel Flynn and Tim Southee as new faces in the 20-man group selected for 2008-09. James Marshall also returns to the list after two years without a national deal.
Following a year of transitions for New Zealand the squad has taken on a very different look with the departures of Shane Bond, Craig McMillan, Lou Vincent and Stephen Fleming, who was the only one of the quartet to see his contract out. Two of the mid-year replacements, Craig Cumming and Matthew Bell, have been axed, along with Michael Papps and Mathew Sinclair as the selectors continue their revolving-door system with the top order.
Ryder's deal proves the team management is willing to take a punt on an obvious talent, despite his off-field problems. The batsman made his ODI debut in the home series against England and averaged 49 from five matches.
However, his breakthrough was soured in a late-night incident when he punched a window in a local bar and ended up with a severely injured hand that required several months of recovery. Ryder has reportedly used his time off to lose weight and was included in the one-day squad to tour England.
The inclusion of Southee, 19, was no surprise after he burst onto the Test scene with 5 for 55 and an unbeaten 77 in his first match against England last month. Grant Elliott, the allrounder who also made his debut in that game, could not squeeze into the group.
"Contracts are awarded to the 20 players who have the greatest likely future value to the Black Caps in the next 12 months," the team's general manager Lindsay Crocker said. "Players who have missed out on contracts can play their way into the Black Caps through domestic performances and can expect to pick up major association contracts."
Redmond's promotion completes an eventful fortnight for the Otago batsman, who was a surprise call-up for the Test tour of England. Flynn, 22, who made his ODI debut in February and is also in the squad to visit England, was rewarded for a domestic season that brought 663 first-class runs at 60.27. Flynn's Northern Districts team-mate Marshall also earned his position thanks to a strong State Championship campaign during which he made 616 runs at 51.33.
Contracted players Daniel Flynn, James Franklin, Peter Fulton, Mark Gillespie, Gareth Hopkins, Jamie How, James Marshall, Chris Martin, Michael Mason, Brendon McCullum, Kyle Mills, Iain O'Brien, Jacob Oram, Jeetan Patel, Aaron Redmond, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori.